Saturday, February 2, 2008

FutureGen: The Bush Administration's Version of Morgan from "Good Will Hunting"

After five years of proclaiming its FutureGen demonstration plant in Illinois would show the world that "clean coal" wasn't just greenwashing, the Bush administration pulled a 180 this week and suddenly shelved the plans:
Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell said the administration was dropping the FutureGen Alliance project because costs for the planned 275-megawatt coal-fired plant had risen to $1.8 billion and because of advances in technology. Instead, the department said it would be willing to pay the cost of adding carbon capture and storage technology to new or existing coal plants bigger than 300 megawatts. Sell said that would lead to multiple projects and more sequestration. [...]

As recently as December, administration officials were calling it a "centerpiece" of their strategy for clean coal technologies.
Let me put this in bold letters: There is no such thing as clean coal. Virginia's proposed Wise County coal-fired power plant, with the latest emissions-reducing technology, would still emit more than 12,500 tons of pollution each year, including nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide, the latter a cause of serious breathing problems for people with respiratory illnesses. There is no method of affordable carbon capture and storage currently available. Even the energy industry admits affordable CCS is, at best, decades away.

But I gotta tell you, I did get a laugh out of the headline of the press release:

DOE Announces Restructured FutureGen Approach to Demonstrate Carbon Capture and Storage Technology at Multiple Clean Coal Plants

Covering up the fiasco by calling the plans "restructured" reminded me of the scene in Good Will Hunting where Casey Affleck's character explains how he got fired from a janitorial job:
MORGAN: Management was restructurin'.

BILLY: Yeah, restructurin' the amount of retahhds they had workin' for 'em.
Fortunately for us, the White House is due for a similar restructuring on January 20.
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